This Is the Night (1932): Pre-Code Comedy, Featuring Cary Grant in his Screen Debut

Cary Grant made his feature screen debut in This Is the Night, a Pre-Code Paramount comedy, in which he received fifth billing.

Grade: C+ (** out of *****)

This Is the Night
This is the Night poster.jpg

Lilli Damita and Cary Grant

Directed by Frank Tuttle, this domestic comedy of manner is based on the 1923 play Pouche by Frenchmen Henri Falk and René Peter. The play had already been adapted as a silent in 1926, titled Good and Naughty, starring Pola Negri.

When Claire Mathewson’s husband Stephen (Grant) comes back unexpectedly from the 1932 Olympics, he discovers train tickets for Venice that Claire has planned with her lover Gerald.

Gerald’s friend Bunny West (Charles Ruggles) lies that the tickets are actually for Gerald and his wife. Gerald tries to hire the actress Chou-Chou as his fake spouse, but her boyfriend is jealous, and she gives it to the unemployed and starving Germaine (Lili Damita).

The two couples go to Venice. Bunny, attracted to Germaine, decides to join them. On the train, Stephen questions Gerald and Germaine about their first meeting.

The dynamics change in Venice, when Claire herself becomes jealous, due to Stephen and Gerald’s attraction to Germaine.  Claire demands that Gerald send Germaine away, and he orders her to leave.

A drunken Bunny climbs a ladder into Germaine’s bedroom, but he falls into a canal and is apprehended by the police. Stephen believes he hears a burglar and goes to her room to investigate. The two are caught in a seemingly compromising position–until Bunny clarifies the situation.


Photo: Charles Ruggles, Cary Grant, Lili Damita and Roland Young
In the happy ending, Claire decides she’s still in love with Stephen and breaks off her affair with Gerald.  Germaine reveals that she is not really Chou-Chou, but Gerald asks her to marry him.

In a running gag, he repeatedly snags Claire’s dress, causing her to lose her clothing.

Grant disliked his role immensely, claiming that a man accepting his wife’s unfaithfulness so calmly was unbelievable.

After seeing the film, he decided to quit the movie industry, but his friend, the openly gay costume designer Orry-Kelly talked him out of it.


Lili Damita as Germaine
Charles Ruggles as Bunny West
Roland Young as Gerald Grey
Thelma Todd as Claire
Cary Grant as Stephen Mathewson (fifth billing)
Irving Bacon as Sparks, Gerald’s chauffeur.


Directed by Frank Tuttle
Written by Benjamin Glazer, George Marion Jr. play Naughty Cinderella by Avery Hopwood, French play Pouche by Henri Falk and René Peter
Produced by Benjamin Glazer (uncredited)
Cinematography Victor Milner
Music by Ralph Rainger. W. Franke Harling (uncredited), John Leipold (uncredited)

Production and distribution company: Paramount

Release date: April 8, 1932

Running time: 80 minutes